Fruity “meat” curry (Cameroon)

Cameroon is a country in Central Africa, with some coastline too. It houses well over 200 different linguistic groups. A former colony of Germany, after World War II it was divided between France and Britain, uniting again in 1972. The country got its name from Portuguese, though, from Camarões meaning shrimp. Corruption and human rights violations remain major problems and life expectancy is one of the lowest in the world. Breast ironing is a particular problem facing young girls. School attendance, however, is relatively high, and the economy is steadily growing. Traditional music, dance and football are important parts of the culture. The Cameroonian football team is very successfull internationally. There are also many traditional artforms, such as woodcarving, sculpture, basket weaving, embroidery, leather working and different forms of jewelry.

Staple starches in Cameroon include rice, potato, plantain, corn, millet, cassava, yam and cocoyam (taro?). Fufu, a starchy porridge popular in many African countries, is somewhat confusingly known as “couscous” in Cameroon. French bread and pasta, leftover of the colonial times, are eaten, but not staples due to higher prices. Fish is eaten more than meat. Insects and various species of bush meat (wild animals) are eaten. Popular vegetables include e.g. eggplant, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, okra and bitterleaf. Sweet potatoes and plantains are often made into chips. Foods are typically seasoned with peanuts and hot peppers and fried in palm oil. Restaurants still widely serve French food. Popular drinks include tea, coffee (especially instant) and millet beer.

There are several recipes of Cameroon curry online, with some big differences. The similarities seem to be the use of curry powder, very little of any other spices, pineapple and usually sweet potato, sometimes raisins. The meat can be lamb, pork, fish or seafood. The common thread is also the use of raw garnishes, usually chopped peanut and fruit, but sometimes other things, which make the dish different from most other curries in the world. Some recipes used tomatoes, others didn’t, some had coconut milk and one had peanut butter, which is quite traditional in many African countries, but in general it’s hard to find African dishes without peanut butter, so I left out that one. The recipes I looked for inspiration were mostly from Good Food and to some extent Africa Imports and CDKitchen. (There was also a somewhat different one without garnishes.)

The result was quite tasty, as you could expect. In my version I got a surprise “twist” as I used a yellow-fleshed sweet potato (orange would have looked better in the pictures, but I couldn’t get it), so the sweet potato and pineapple chunks look almost identical, you can’t tell them apart until you bite into them. I normally never attempt to serve Vegventures dishes to my husband, but this time I did and he was very happy. I held off the raisins though, as he doesn’t like them. He admitted that even the garnish, which he was suspicious about, really fit in.

Cameroon curry

Cameroon curry

1 tbsp oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp Indian-style curry powder
(1/4 cup raisins)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
0.9 lbs/400 g mock meat (I used mock lamb from Chinatown)
14 fl oz/200 ml coconut cream or coconut milk
1/2 large or 1 small sweet potato (7 oz/200 g), peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 small ripe sweet pineapple, trimmed, cored and cut into chunks
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp shredded coconut

for garnish any number of these (those marked with an asterisk are the most commonly listed ones)

banana, peeled and chopped*
mango, peeled and diced *
roasted peanuts, chopped*
coconut flakes*
chopped cucumber
cilantro (fresh coriander) leaves
jalapeno rings

Fry the onion in the oil for a few minutes. Add the garlic and curry powder and fry for one more minute. Add all the other ingredients and simmer until done. Serve hot with rice.

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